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Whole grain consumption is up a whole 20 percent since 2005. That’s the encouraging message revealed by Boston-based non-profit Oldways and the Whole Grains Council’s (WGC) recent Make (at least!) Half Your Grains Whole conference, which offered the first solid evidence that changes in U.S. Dietary Guidelines and widespread use of the Whole Grain Stamp packaging symbol - both dating from January 2005 - have accomplished major changes in consumer behavior.
A double-digit increase in whole grain consumption is compelling and indicates whole grains are moving into the mainstream, according to NPD Group’s Joe Derochowski, who presented data from his firm’s National Eating Trends survey. But the average American consumes just 11 percent of dietary grains from whole grains, a figure that falls short of the recommendation for making half or more of our grains whole.
Nevertheless, WGC’s own measurement tools offer encouraging signs indicating that whole grain consumption will continue to grow:
• Popular women's magazines now include more whole grains in recipes, photos and stories. “By making a third or more of the grains pictured and described in their articles and recipes whole grains,” Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies for Oldways/WGC, says leading women’s magazines are having a profound effect in making whole grains the norm.
• While whole grains still cost more than their refined counterparts, the gap is shrinking steadily, thus reducing a barrier for many families in the current recession.
• The Whole Grains Stamp now appears on 2,500 products in seven countries. WGC says the increasingly popular packaging symbol helps convey trust while conveniently relaying which foods contain significant amounts of whole grain and helps makes shoppers feel more confident they’re getting adequate whole grains.
The bottom line: “When manufacturers create delicious whole grain products, government policies support them, and the health/non-profit sector popularizes them with creative and innovative programs, we’ve learned that we can move the consumer needle toward enjoying healthier foods like whole grains,” says Oldways president K. Dun Gifford.
For more information, contact Alison Clancy ([email protected] or 617-896-4888).